GOOD FOR WHAT ALES YOU
Drink Like a Local in 6 Beer Cities
We uncover pubs worth the trip in places that seriously know their brews: Brooklyn, Denver, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Portland, and Salt Lake City.
Stonefly Brewing Company
Named for an insect coveted by trout and often simulated with fishermen's lures, Stonefly's brewery and brewpub are among Milwaukee's favorites. Youngsters and old-time beer lovers gather for playful pub fare—the Brat & Tot is just what it sounds like—and an impressive lineup of flavorful craft beers. On the stage anything goes: folk, burlesque, even hip hop poetry. What to drink Stonefly's beers run from a crisp pale ale to a dark, hearty porter, but its intensely hoppy Sixfinger IPA or the rich and toasty Oatmeal Stout showcases the brewery's tendency toward bold flavors. 735 E. Center St., 414/264-3630, stoneflybrewery.com.
This cozy pub unites Philadelphians looking to eat and drink local fare in an unpretentious setting. Diners enjoy refined, responsibly sourced food; Standard Tap uses fresh ingredients mostly sourced from southeastern Pennsylvania and pays homage to the region's rich brewing heritage by specializing in local beers. What to drink Greater Philadelphia is without question the best beer region on the East Coast, so stay local and go for anything from Victory, Sly Fox, or Weyerbacher. 901 N. Second St., 215/238-0630, standardtap.com.
Unlike Standard Tap, Monk's beer selection is far from local. This Belgian beer bar was ahead of its time, celebrating what is arguably the world's finest beer-producing nation long before Belgian ales got popula in the States. The friendly staff has an encyclopedic beer knowledge and is happy to help navigate the daunting menu. What to drink Monk's stocks the usual Belgian suspects like Chimay, Corsendonk, and St. Bernardus, but strays into more obscure territory as well. Try Monk's Cafe Flemish Sour Ale, brewed near Ghent, Belgium exclusively for the bar. 264 S. 16th St., 215/545-7005, monkscafe.com.
Rogue Distillery & Public House (PDX)
One of Portland's best known microbreweries remains a choice brewpub destination, even in a city with nearly 30 others. The original location is 235 miles down the road in Ashland, but its outpost in Portland's industrial-chic Pearl District gives urbanites easy access to Rogue's inventive beer styles and hearty dishes; the menu includes five Kobe beef burgers. What to drink Choosing a beer from the 38 taps at Rogue can be overwhelming, but with a pleasing spiciness, and a hint of smoke, the amber Chipotle Ale is better than its name might suggest. Or opt for the tasting flight and sample four 4-ounce brews for $6. 1339 NW Flanders St., 503/222-5910, rogue.com.
Deschutes Brewery & Public House
Started as a small brewpub in central Oregon, Deschutes now has a second location in Portland, giving its neighbor Rogue some heavy competition. Eighteen rotating drafts often include pub-only exclusives, and the locally sourced menu (try the house-made sausages and cured meats) brings together classical pub cuisine with self-described Northwest flair. What to drink Black Butte Porter: With hints of coffee and chocolate, this outstanding porter earned an A+ on beeradvocate.com. 210 NW 11th Ave., 503/296-4906, deschutesbrewery.com.
Lucky Labrador Brew Pub
Since 1994, this vast brewpub in a former sheet-metal warehouse has taken a canine-friendly approach to beer drinking. Dogs are free to mingle beneath the tables on the back patio while the owners sip ales and graze on sandwiches and fresh light salads. It's like being backstage at a dog show, only with much better beer. What to drink Given the pub's name, the rich and toasty Black Lab Stout is a natural choice. Labrador also features rotating draft and cask options. 915 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 503/236-3555, luckylab.com.
SALT LAKE CITY
Squatters Pub Brewery
State law might limit Utah's draft beer to 3.2 percent alcohol (when American beers average 5 percent), but Salt Lake City brewpubs like Squatters are thriving all the same. Peter Cole and Jeff Polychronis bailed on their real estate careers and started Squatters in 1989. This early player in they city's craft-beer scene now distributes its regular roster across the state. For the full experience, hit the pub, which serves brewmaster Jenny Talley's more ambitious efforts—at the moment she's experimenting with barrel aging and champagne yeast. What to drink Squatters' bestseller is Full Suspension Pale Ale. It has a brand new companion this month: Hell's Keep, a bold and slightly spicy Belgian golden ale. 147 W. Broadway, 801/363-2739, squatters.com.
Red Rock Brewing Company
Just around the corner from Squatter's, Red Rock is not only known for its beers—which have racked up numerous awards—but also for handcrafted sodas and an extensive America-meets-Italy menu. No offense to the sausage loyalists, but is there a better beer pairing than wood-fired pizza? What to drink The IPA Junior, a sweet and hop-heavy ale that might be low in alcohol, but nevertheless manages an intense, pleasingly bitter flavor. 254 S. 200 W., 801/521-7446, redrockbrewing.com.